Beauty bloggers, parenting bloggers, techie bloggers, film bloggers... the list of blogging niches is infinite. Most bloggers in these categories get paid for what they do because, for a lot of them, blogging is their job.
Book blogging is different. Most of us don't get paid, unless you count through adverts (which don't bring in much money at all) and sponsored posts which seem pretty rare - I've only chosen to do two of them in the last six years.
But we spend hours, sometimes days, writing posts to promote books for free. We're valuable. For some, book blogging could be considered a full-time job, whether they make money from it or not.
Should we be paid for this?
I don't think we 'should', necessarily. That makes it sound like we all expect payment, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we don't expect anything at all, not even free books.
Before you read the rest of this post, please note that I'm not trying to start something. I just think this makes for an interesting discussion and I wondered what everyone else thinks.
- We are valuable. We spend our free time doing all sorts, and all for the love of books and blogging. We come up with ideas, we write posts, we take photographs, we make videos, we recommend books to our friends offline and on a huge variety of social networks. We respond to emails, we make graphics, we work with HTML and CSS when we need to, we type up interviews, we let authors and other industry people guest post on our blogs, we build a following... we do a lot. It's like a full-time job, except we (mostly) do it for free. Who wouldn't want to be paid for talking about books?
- Book reviewers in traditional publications get paid, so why shouldn't we? Admittedly, they tend to have much larger audiences, and they had to actually apply for the job in the first place, but we work just as hard - if not harder. Do book reviewers for newspapers have to design the page before they put their text on it? Do they have to spend hours promoting their review so as many people as possible see it? Didn't think so.
- Lots of booktubers get paid. Publishing houses sponsor them to include certain books in their videos but we're not paid to include certain books in our posts.
- Most bloggers aren't rich, and yet we're practically doing another job on the side but getting little or no money from it.
- Some of us have bills to pay. Books don't pay bills.
- If a fashion blogger was approached by a company, the blogger would send over the fees they charge for product placement and whatever else. Why don't we?
- Bloggers might get paid to review a book but not disclose the fact they've been paid, which could lead to legal issues and readers feeling like they'd been lied to.
- We might not be able to trust other reviews anymore.
- For most of us, book blogging is a hobby. Getting paid could elevate that enjoyment, but it could also take it away and make blogging feel like a chore.
- Publishers have budgets for marketing, and a blogger promoting a book is marketing. But, at the same time, publishers are already under a lot of strain, financially - I, personally, wouldn't feel right about adding to that.
- Why would anyone suddenly pay for something we're currently doing for free?
- We get free books already, and the occasional extra like a tote or a t-shirt (but, even then, we're essentially walking adverts, not that I'm complaining) - isn't that enough?
I've never talked to you about the financial side of this blog, but it's relevant and talking about it openly doesn't bother me. So, here's some context.
- At the time of writing this post, I have made a grand total of £54.14 in nearly six years of book blogging. This money has been collected through affiliate links and sponsored posts - there are two of each, if you're wondering.
- My domain name costs £11 per year to renew. I've had this domain name for three years, which means I've spent £33 on renewing it.
- Over the years, I've done a lot of giveaways and you'd be surprised at how much postage can cost. When a publisher isn't sending the prize and it's my responsibility, the postage money comes from my own pocket.
- I have business cards. They're very snazzy and good quality. When I run out, I buy more. They're probably too expensive for small pieces of card, but I like them and you like them. So it works.
If you want to get all business-like on this, you could say I've made a loss. Not that I mind, by the way - I love blogging so, so much and I never started this for the money, nor do I expect to make a profit from it ever. Even though it's been put back into the blog, the fact that I've even made £50+ at all is pretty cool, even if I don't have anything to show for it. Except a domain name. That's actually a really big thing to show for it. Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this. Whatever. MOVING ON.
Some might think those who want to be paid are suddenly book blogging for the wrong reasons, but I think it's natural to want to be compensated for spending so much time helping out - and, essentially, working for - other people. Bloggers in other niches are paid. Some booktubers are paid. Why is there a different attitude when it comes to money and book bloggers?
This is a big topic and there's a lot more that I could say, but this is already getting pretty long. I'll leave it with this: we're creative, valuable, awesome, and if you want to make money from your blog, then try. If you don't, then don't. But you're awesome, either way, and I don't think bloggers should be treated differently for whichever path they decide to take. Unless they charge authors for 5-star reviews, regardless of their actual opinion, and don't disclose it. But that, my friends, is a different rant for a different day.
Now I would like to know your thoughts. Should we get paid? Would you like to be?